Weekly Press Review – 11 July 2017

Viking Fishing’s court battle against the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) regarding fishing rights in the Western Cape has been dealt a blow.

According to the press, the Western Cape High Court has decided that the company’s interdict against the department should not be made final. This after the fishing group won the first round of a battle after the court ruled in favour of its interdict against new fishing rights in January; calling a halt to the department’s latest allocation of fishing rights.

Viking has not given up, stating that the court’s ruling was not unanimous and that one in three presiding judges had handed down a dissenting judgment.

Ghana has made headlines this week with the country sending its first satellite into orbit.

According to the press the satellite, launched from the International Space Station, was developed by students at the All Nations University in Koforidau and will be used to monitor Ghana’s coastline for mapping purposes.

Taking place at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at present is Sabamnye Nomendi, a creative interdisciplinary and multimedia interpretation of the sinking of the SS Mendi.

The troop ship sank 100 years ago off the Isle of Wight, resulting in the deaths of more than 600 black South African soldiers.

According to the press, Sabamnye Nomendi, conceptualised and curated by Mandla Mbothwe, goes beyond the theatre walls and through song, dance, pictures, film and multimedia takes the audience through this very sad story.

Sabamnye Nomendi is based on a poem by SEK Mqhayi about the sinking of the vessel.

Weekly Press Review – 3 July 2017

The big news for maritime historians this week is the discovery of the ship’s bell belonging to the ill-fated SS Mendi, which sank 100 years ago resulting in the deaths of more than 600 sailors.

According to the press, the ship’s bell was left to Steve Humphey, a well-known local television personality with a special interest in the SS Mendi, in the English coastal town of Swanage.

An anonymous tip led Humphrey and a television crew to the Swanage Pier in the early hours of June,15. According to Humphrey, the bell was wrapped in plastic inside a tarpaulin sack and was tied with string and duct tape. There was an envelope attached to the bell with the journalist’s name of it.

The note read: “Knew of the Mendi’s historical importance to South African heritage, but was concerned that it might not go to the right place. This needs to be sorted out before I pass away as it could get lost.”

The bell has since been transported to a museum in the area where it will be authenticated.

This week marks the graduation of more than 100 SA Navy members after six months of military training at the SAS Saldanha.

According to the press, the navy believes that the aim of the training was not only to provide the youth military skills, but also to teach them the basic life skills required in the work environment, the military environment as well as a  good work ethic.

Skills provided included: seamanship, environmental awareness, musketry, computer skills, basic financial management and discipline.

The SAS Saldanha has recently undergone an extensive upgrade, receiving modern accommodation, mess and classroom facilities.

The impact of the recent international cyber attack has been felt on South African shores. According to the press, the offices of Maersk Line in South Africa were affected by the cyber attack and all computers and landlines were offline.

Matthew Conroy, commercial manager for Maersk Line Southern Africa, said that he did not know when things would return to normal and that the cyber attack was still being investigated.

The Two Oceans Aquarium has declared this month Plastic Free July. According to the press the aquarium has thrown its weight behind the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags through its campaign Rethink the Bag.

The campaign was launched by Hayley McLellan, the aquarium’s environmental campaigner, who has worked since 2010 to promote the campaign, by educating the public and retailers and establishing partnerships.

“All role-players, especially consumers, remain responsible for the approximately 8 billion plastic shopping bags we use every year in South Africa. Remember that demand drives supply, so let’s simply stop demanding and using them,” says McLellan.

Plastic Free July is a worldwide campaign.

Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2017

PetroSA has made headlines again this week. According to the press the state-owned oil company is set to suffer a projected devaluation of assets of R1.1 billion this financial year, in addition to the R14.5 billion in impairment it suffered in the 2014/15 financial year.

The PetroSA board, however, managed to escape an attempt to have it dissolved. A call was made to Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to fire the entire board.

Committee member, Motswaledi Matlala said, “On behalf of the committee I request of the minister: let’s fire the board and get new people who are serious about the lives of the people of this county.”

Interim board chairman, Bhekabantu Ngubane responded by saying that it would be sad day if the board were fired.

Adding to the company’s woes it was also reported in the press that an inexplicable decision by executives at the embattled oil company to feed oil into the state-of-the-art gas-to-liquid facility at Mossel Bay has led to a break down of the refinery, resulting in a two week shutdown and a R500 million loss in revenue.

Transnet has made headlines this week with parliament calling for a forensic investigation into Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency’s multi-billion rand locomotive contracts.

A display commemorating the black South African troops who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi in 1917 is currently open at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

According to the press the centre will also be hosting a multi-discipline conference focusing on the role that the soldiers aboard the SS Mendi played in the greater struggle for human rights and human dignity.

The SA Navy will just have to do more with less. That was the message delivered by Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwana, Head of the SA Navy, in Simon’s Town this week.

According to the press the navy is experiencing more challenges, but with far less funding. Vice Admiral Hlongwana also stated that it is important to remember that the navy has 3,000km of coastline to patrol and traditional concepts would have to be challenged in driving the navy into the future.

The annual SA Navy Festival, in conjunction with Armscor, took place at East Dockyard in Simon’s Town last weekend. According to the press the event afforded the public the opportunity to tour naval ships and submarines, as well as view multi-capacity anti-piracy demonstrations.

Weekly Press Review – 27 February 2017

The ill-fated SS Mendi has made headlines again this week with a centenary ceremony taking place at the University of Cape Town’s Lower Campus over the weekend.

The ceremony was hosted by the Gunners Association Western Province and was attended by dignitaries from the South African National Defence Force, military veterans and family members of some of those who lost their lives on February 21, 1917.

Victor Nyovane, grandson of Ebenezer Nyovane, who lost his life aboard the SS Mendi said, “Our family has never known the full story of how our grandfather died. As we laid our rocks on the memorial we finally felt at peace.”

A warrant of arrest has been issued for one of four men accused of racketeering, money laundering, fraud and contraventions of the Marine Living Resources Act in relation to illegal abalone activities.

According to the press, the court was ready to start with sentencing procedures and waited for over an hour for accused, Sean Kruger, who failed to appear at the Khayelitsha Regional Court.

Kruger and his co-accused, all on bail, were all convicted of all 23 counts.

It has been requested that Kruger now be kept in custody pending the finalisation of the matter.

Also making headlines this week was the sighting of the vessel, the Seven Arctic, in Cape Town harbour.

Owned by Subsea 7, the Seven Arctic is designed for subsea construction in ultra-deep water and hostile environments and was built in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Weekly Press Review – 20 February 2017

A fire, which broke out aboard a fishing vessel in Cape Town harbour, has been brought under control.

According to the press, the South Korean vessel, the Geumjeong, caught fire over the weekend. The tilting of the vessel during the fire made it difficult for fire crews to board the vessel, but according to Transnet spokesperson, Coen Birkenstock, the fire is now under control and no other vessels were damaged during the blaze.

Another ten arrests in connection with abalone poaching have made headlines this week. Members of the Hawks arrested 10 individuals, between the ages of 25 ad 56, in raids conducted in Durbanville, Plattekloof, West Beach, Tableview and Parklands.

According to Hawks spokesperson, Captain Lloyd Ramovha, the properties of those accused had been closely monitored over several weeks under of suspicion of illegal activity.

The ten will appear in the magistrate’s court in Bellville on Monday morning.

The SS Mendi is still in the news this week with last week marking the centenary of the tragic sinking of the vessel on February 21, 1917.

The sinking of the SS Mendi seemed to have been forgotten for a while, but the centenary has once again reminded people of the terrible loss of life – which saw the deaths of 646 souls – and the bravery of those aboard the stricken vessel.

Weekly Press Review – 16 January 2017

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi. More than 600 African labourers and 12 officers died in the tragedy. According to the press, the SAS Amatola will leave South african waters, in a relatively rare journey to European waters, on a special mission to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi.

The SAS Amatola will take part in naval exercises with the Royal and German navies and a ceremony will be held to commemorate the fallen vessel.   Some relatives of the dead will be flown out to take part in the ceremony.

Also making headlines this week is the news that a R800 million project to build ships with China in an upgraded naval dockyard in Simon’s Town is on the cards, despite the navy requesting that the Chinese be kept out.

The project is being pushed by the council on defence and involves the reserving of a large share of the construction work for state arms manufacturer Denel and its Chinese joint venture partner, with Simon’s Town dockyard as a preferred construction site.

Also making headlines this week are concerns regarding the low numbers of successful prosecutions of perlemoen poachers in the Overstrand area.

According to the press between April and October 2016, 43 suspected poachers were arrested, but only five were successfully prosecuted.

Michael Cardo, DA-LP said that he is extremely concerned about the few successful prosecutions.

“A prosecution rate of 10 percent is too low. We need better law enforcement along with a holistic approach towards community development to ensure that perlemoen poaching is extinguished,” he said.

Also making headlines this week was the sad loss of Captain Rodney Young MBE. Captain Young was the highly respected Master of RMS St Helena. He was holidaying in Seychelles at the time of his death.

Weekly Press Review – 26 February 2016

This week marked the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi. According to the press over 200 people attended a service at the SA Mendi Memorial in Atteridgeville earlier this week to commemorate the event.

On 21 February 1917 the SS Mendi collided with another vessel, the SS Daro, and sank with 646 South African Labour Corps on board. Most of the victims were black South African troops. It was a major loss of life for the South African military, as well as one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century.

Also in the news this week is the announcement that Grindrod has pulled out of the planned multi-billion rand Saldanha crude oil terminal.

Grindrod chief executive Alan Olivier said, “ Clearly the market conditions, with the fall in commodity prices and curtailment of capital projects in the mining sector, has certainly put pressure on a lot of the projects we were looking at.

“But we always said we would not proceed with capital projects unless we had the underlying volume support to be able to justify these projects.”

The arrival of the French frigate Le Nivose has made headlines this week. The vessel will be at the V&A Waterfront until mid-March and is open to the public.

Le Nivose has been patrolling the French southern and Antarctic territories, combating piracy, illegal fishing and trafficking, with the aim of increasing maritime security in the area.